When to go for gold

Figure 1

picked chow

In Figure 1, you have a two-chance hand with Pure Shifted Chows. But what happens next? You pick . That’s a tough decision. Do you break up your hand and try to add a Full Flush to your hand? Or do you discard it, and keep what you have? It’s certainly tempting go for gold and try for a higher score --- especially considering the fact you might even make Four Shifted Chows (Figure 2).

Figure 2

chow chow

However, the proper play is to discard the . You have a large hand. You have an open-ended chow draw, giving you 8 tiles to finish. If your hand were the one shown in Figure 3, which has half the chances of finishing, you would have a good reason to break up your hand.

Figure 3

picked chow

But even in that case, you should discard starting with the . The reason? If you draw your best choice is to discard and restore your Pure Shifted Chows, this time with double the chances.

Figure 4

pung pung

What about the hand shown in Figure 4? You are ready with All Types (6 pts.) + Honor Pung (1 pt.) + Terminal Pung (1 pt.). An opponent discards . Do you meld a pung and create All Pungs? The answer is no: again you should keep your two-chance hand. The increased chances for a self-drawn finish are too valuable to give up. Self-drawing an 8-point hand gives you 48 points total. That’s the equivalent of taking a 24-point hand using an opponent’s discard. A hand with 8 or more tiles to finish (as in the two-chance hands above) has a high expectation. The value of being in this position must not be underestimated.

Figure 5

picked pung pung

Are there exceptions? Of course. Take Figure 5. You are ready on a hand of Two Dragons (6 pts.) + Voided Suit (1 pt.) + Terminal Pung (1 pt.). Then you pick . Suddenly, you have a chance at a 64-point hand. And your opponents can only see one of your dragons. If you can make ready soon, you are almost certain to make a large score on the unlucky player who draws the next . Some players might opt to keep what they have, but we recommend going for gold. Take a look at the board, determine what tiles are live, and discard either or .